John Ballard, an African American pioneer from Kentucky, became a leader of Los Angeles's black community, 1850s–1870s. His story illustrates the early opportunities for black Angelenos in institution-formation, political activism, property ownership, and economic success. However, with the railroad booms of the 1870s and 1880s, Ballard and other prominent black citizens suffered a loss of social and economic status. Ballard ended up homesteading in the Santa Monica Mountains.

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